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High tide, flood won’t stop John the Baptist festival

RESIDENTS of Calumpit, Bulacan, take part in a fluvial procession for the feast of St. John the Baptist last Monday. JHOANNA MARIE BUENAOBRA/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON

HAGONOY, Bulacan—For residents in coastal areas of Bulacan, the feast of St. John the Baptist was an occasion to enjoy the celebration more as water is all around them.

On Monday, the day of the feast, high tide was measured at 4.59 feet, but the phenomenon was most welcome to revelers and devotees.

In coastal villages here like Mercado, Sto. Rosario, San Jose and Sta. Cruz, roads were turned into instant swimming pools for children and adults, with water rising at least 3 feet.

In Barangay (village) San Juan, a swimming contest was held in a river in the village.

Gilbert Galang, who won P20 for his runner-up finish, said he learned to swim because of floods that occur in his village almost every year. “I

almost drowned in a flooded street and this forced me to learn to swim,” he said.

On Tuesday, many residents along the road to San Juan stayed on bridges because from there, they could easily get water from the river to douse revelers.

But the splashing of water stopped when the procession carrying the 300-year-old old statue of St. John passed by.

Apolonio Aguilar, 72, a ninth generation owner of the

image, pulled the carriage. “I cherish this image dearly and I make sure not to abandon or neglect it during the procession so it won’t be damaged,” said Aguilar, who has been taking care of the image for 21 years now.

After the procession, devotees and those who joined the procession danced around the carriage.

In the village of San Juan in Calumpit, residents staged a fluvial procession, called the Libad Festival, in honor of their patron saint. The procession passed through the Angat, Bagbag and Pampanga rivers.

At least 30 big boats, locally called “kasko,” which used to carry salt and other cargos, were rented to carry devotees of St. John as well as the image of the saint. Owners of smaller boats also joined the fluvial parade.

No one went home dry as residents waited on bridges to throw water-filled plastic bags at devotees or douse them with pails of water. Devotees on boats scooped water from the river and splashed these on to spectators. Jhoanna Marie Buenaobra, Inquirer Central Luzon

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